My mental illness is my reality - it's not a choice

I suffer from complex post-traumatic stress disorder (CPTSD), major depressive disorder (MDD) and anxiety, which at times makes my life difficult and unbearable.

I find that mental health is still a very taboo subject. Many people are still ignorant to mental health and don’t treat it seriously because it’s not really visible.

“Pull yourself together”

“Try harder”

“You CAN help it”

“It can’t be true”

“Put it behind you, it happened years ago”

…are only a few remarks I’ve heard. 

I've struggled with shame after experiencing stigma as a child

To say that mental health stigma and discrimination have impacted on multiple facets of my life is an understatement. On reflection these issues have been and still are the biggest obstacles to my recovery from major trauma. This is due to my reluctance to “come out” about my challenges and to believe that I deserve some support. I am not good at asking for help out in the real world. It is a heavy weight to carry and one that I am increasing keen to dump. 

Let me make decisions on how to handle my anxiety

I'd like to talk about my experiences with work, good and bad. The reaction of a manager to your disclosure of mental health difficulties can really make a difference to the way you feel and how open you’ll be with future employers.

I have had anxiety for as long as I can remember. I’ve been diagnosed with panic disorder. Over the years my anxiety has had peaks and troughs and I’ve needed to tell my managers about it.

It’s not just time to talk about mental health - it’s time to ask, listen and care

When it comes to the need to talk about our mental health, we seem to put all of the responsibility in the court of the person who is already struggling. Sure, nobody can read minds, and people can’t expect specific help without asking for it. But mental health problems can make it harder to talk and ask for help in the first place. The responsibility of reaching out for help has to be matched with our shared responsibility to look out for each other - to provide safe spaces to talk, to listen, and to offer caring responses.